"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A "New Master Idea" for a Religious and Militaristic Society

It became clear last night that the national nod to income inequality has conservatives and neoliberals on the search for new educational interventions that promise to bring an end to the effects of poverty without spending any money to end poverty.  

David Brooks, with his kinder and gentler form of fascist educational eugenics in mind, limply chastised the President following his SOTU speech last night for not being more bold in his education initiatives, suggesting that the President should announce new programs to instill "impulse control" in the earliest grades.

Hmm. We know that the corporate education fixers of poor children have been at this project for some time, with the KIPPnotizing, culture scrubbing, positive psychology for children, but to advocate for "impulse control" in the State of the Union speech leads me to know that CorpEd has the curriculum charts completed for the universal pre-K that is on the horizon.

Impulse control?  I googled "impulse control" and "David Brooks" and came up with a piece in Forbes by James Poulos, who criticizes Brooks before he goes into this riff that probably tells a whole lot more about the rationale for "resilience," "self-control," and "fitness" than Poulos was ever aware of.  

If the U. S. is going to prevail and rule through the coming economic and environmental cataclysms that corporate government assures us all, then we are going to need some godly warriors.  Poulos uses the term "new master idea" to describe what David Brooks is too shy to talk about:
. . . . Brooks’s accurate inventory of a well-functioning human’s attributes — impulse control, attachment formation, psychological or spiritual resilience, and a competent command of their social emotions — issues forth from the conscious mastery of a very few basic endowments that humans possess from an extraordinarily young age. Failing to orient policy around this reality is an unforced error that promises to compound the disappointments and costs of today’s melee over “fixing” our social structure.

As I argued two years ago, we can orient policy in just that way by encouraging a new master idea in early education: the acutely aware development of calm mental discipline, calm physical discipline, and the biologically intimate link between the two. Historically, religious and militaristic societies have been reasonably good at inculcating some aspects of this crucial connection. But societies organized around asceticism can often abandon the virtues of physical fitness, and societies organized around war frequently give the peaceful, centered mind short shrift. America is uniquely well-positioned to privilege both types of high-level human functioning. A generation or two of children more or less equally equipped with these competencies could make an extraordinary, astonishing impact on their country’s social and cultural landscape. . . .
Good morning, boys and girls.

1 comment:

  1. " societies organized around war " http://www.beta.alternet.org/corporate-accountability-and-workplace/leadership-training-or-bullshit-training-harvard-price-pseudo http://useconomy.about.com/od/usfederalbudget/p/military_budget.htm
    "America is uniquely well-positioned to privilege both types of high-level human functioning."
    It seems to me your assertions constitute an oxymoron.